Chelandry – Thoroughbred Royalty

Heralded matriarchs are the quintessential foundations for future generations. Much as we celebrate the stallions that father champions and sons that continue the male line, foundation mares are equally as important, just not as well publicised. However, the most successful breeders do place extreme importance in acquiring breeding stock descending from certain matriarchal families that have proven records of excellence. The family of Chelandry, bred in 1884 by Lord Rosebery, has withstood the test of time as well as the test of speed and courage on the track.

Chelandry was sired by Goldfinch, who was in turn sired by the immortal undefeated Triple Crown winner Ormonde. Goldfinch’s year older half brother Common (by Isomony) was also a Triple Crown champion, while he himself was a stakes winner taking four of his five career races, with the New Stakes being his most prestigious victory. Goldfinch stood only one season in England before his importation to Rancho del Paso in California. He died twenty years later at Ben Ali Haggin’s Elmendorf Farm in Lexington after a productive stud career.

The dam of Chelandry was Illuminata, a daughter of Rosicrucian. During the year of Chelandry’s birth, Illuminata’s son Ladas (by Hampton) won the 2000 Guineas, The Derby Stakes and finished second in the St. Leger Stakes, thus just missing a Triple Crown sweep of his own. Ladas raced in the colours of his breeder Archibald Philip Primrose (Lord Roseberry), who would be elected Prime Minister that same year. Illuminata came from a powerful family herself which traces back to Ellen Horne (third dam) and includes among her relatives Rouge Rose (dam of Bend Or), Roxelene (dam of Roi Herode) as well as Paradigm (dam of Triple Crown winner Lord Lyon and classic winning filly Achievement).

Illuminata also had other daughters that became outstanding producers. Her daughter Gas for instance is the dam of Derby Stakes winner Cicero (by Cyllene) and second dam to classic 1000 Guineas winner Vaucluse. When Illuminata met Goldfinch, she was the first mare to come to his court and the result was our subject Chelandry.

With such a glittering family history behind her, Chelandry was expected to be a good one. She did not disappoint. In fact, Chelandry became the most important member of this illustrious family, known as “Family 1n” under the Bruce Lowe system. Once in training, Chelandry took to her studies with an impressive turn of foot although she lost her first race by a diminishing half length. She came back in her next race and took the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom and then the Great Surry Breeder’s Stakes two days later.

Her outing at Royal Ascot a fortnight later saw her begrudgingly give way near the finish line to a fourth placing. The next month with a little more fitness about her Chelandry made all the running to win the National Breeder’s Produce Stakes at Sandown against colts. Her final race as a juvenile came in October when she pulverised a classy field in winning the rich Imperial Produce Stakes at Kempton. At season’s end Chelandry was rated the best two-year-old filly. It should be noted here that the top two year in 1886 was the legendary Galtee More, who would go on to become the seventh Triple Crown winner in the next year.

Chelandry re-emerged on the track at Newmarket for her three-year-old debut in the 1000 Guineas Stakes, the first classic of the season. Her trainer William Walters, who’s training yard Mentmore was at Newmarket, had Chelandry fit and ready to run. Clearly enjoying the home cooking, Chelandry made all the running and kept the good fillies Goletta and Galatia (both sired by Galopin) behind her as she passed by the finish post to win the race. Another little tidbit of excitement for her owner Lord Roseberry was that the race took place on May 7, 1897, the Prime Minister’s 50th birthday.

Unfortunately for Lord Roseberry and the Mentmore staff, this would be the last victory for Chelandry. However, it was not for want of trying by either the filly or her connections. Chelandry finished second in the Oaks at Epsom and then ran unplaced in the Coronation Stakes at Ascot. She then tried to take down Galtee More in the 1 ¾ miles St. Leger Stakes but, as we have already said, Galtee More completed the Triple Crown. Chelandry finished second in the race ahead of her talented stable mate Velasquez, who had run second to the race winner in the two previous classic races. The distance was obviously too far for Chelandry, but she gamely and bravely kept going. Her final race of the year saw her finish third to Love Wisely and Velasquez in the Jockey Club Stakes.

Back for another year in training, Chelandry’s distance limits prevented her from gaining any more first place prize money. Her best outing was a third in the Jockey Club Stakes to the brilliant Cyllene and Velasquez. Although she failed to win beyond a mile, Chelandry entered Lord Roseberry’s first-class broodmare band with high hopes for success. Again, she did not disappoint. In fact, Chelandry founded an incredible dynasty and is one of the turf world’s greatest “Magical Matriarchs”. She is quite simply one of the most important broodmares of all time.

The first stallion on Chelandry’s dance card was Ayrshire. This union produced a fine chestnut filly named Skyscraper in 1900. Skyscraper won the prestigious Cheveley Park Stakes, the Prince of Wales Plate (defeating Oaks winner Our Lassie), and twice took the New Biennial Stakes in a very productive racing career. The Skyscraper branch of the Chelandry line has numerous classic winners such as Waygood (Irish Derby), Galatea (1000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks), Never Say Die (Epsom Derby), Melodist (Irish Oaks), Transworld (Irish St. Leger), and High Chaparral (Epsom Derby, Irish Derby, Breeder’s Cup Turf x2). Also, in the Skyscraper branch are the multiple top-class stakes winners and champions Three Tails, Americain, Transworld, Duncan, Protagonist and Ile de Chypre.

Chelandry produced in 1901 a bay filly by Sir Visto. The filly’s name was Chelys and she won only one race, a maiden plate but in so doing defeated John O’ Gaunt, who would go on to great success. Chelys became a minor producer in the Chelandry realm but does claim a son by Ayrshire named Chili II who went to Australia for stud duty. That one’s daughter Simper produced six topflight stakes winners in New Zealand, which includes New Zealand Oaks winner Razzle Dazzle and her full sister Dazzling Light. The latter is the female line descendant (fourth dam) of major Australian sire Sky High II, by Star Kingdom.

Another bay filly produced by Chelandry followed the next year. Sired by Triple Crown winner Isinglass, the filly was named Samphire. While she was no great concern on the track having never won a race, Samphire herself contributed one very notable breed shaper which is found in many champion pedigrees. Wrack was sired by Robert le Diable, who in turn is a son of Ayrshire. Wrack was a very good stayer and won races on the flat and over hurdles. He was purchased in 1915 by Arthur Boyd Hancock to stand stud at his new Claiborne Farm. Wrack was a three times leading sire in America and became the first of many leading sires to stand at the now famous breeding centre. Wrack’s daughter Flambino, bred by turf icon William Woodward, became Wrack’s most important offspring. Flambino is the dam of two sons sired by Gallant Fox, Omaha in 1932 and Flares the following year. Omaha became the third Triple Crown winner in America while Flares raced to great success for Woodward in England winning the Ascot Gold Cup and the Champion Stakes. Also, Flares sired Chop Chop, a four times leading sire in Canada who became a very important foundation to the Windfields Farm successes on a global scale.

Another very notable and beloved Thoroughbred that descends along the tail-female line from the Samphire branch is the 1980 Kentucky Derby heroine Genuine Risk. Here we have another of the truly great names in racing history that comes from “Family 1n”.

The next two foals produced by Chelandry were both colts. Pomander by Persimmon was a non winner and made no impact in breeding. Traquair however was a very good one at the races. Sired by Ayrshire, Traquair was a full brother to Skyscraper and he did the family proud by winning the July Stakes, National Breeders’ Produce Stakes, Coventry Stakes and Woodcote Stakes as a juvenile. Unfortunately, Traquair did not win a race the following year and was subsequently sold to Australia for stud. He got a few stakes winners, such as Traquette who won six stakes races, but he did not leave a lasting impact on the breed.

In 1905 Chelandry produced her sixth foal in six successive years. This foal was a brown filly sired by St. Frusquin, a son of the great St. Simon, and was named Popinjay. Popinjay was sold by Lord Roseberry to Lord Astor who was in the early stages of assembling a potent broodmare colony for his racing enterprise. Lord Astor had already acquired such notables as Maid of the Mist and Conjure, so by his acquisition of a daughter of Chelandry, his stable would begin to bear the fruits of top-class breeding. Popinjay would go on to add considerable credit to Lord Astor’s breeding and racing empire.

Like many of Chelandry’s offspring, Popinjay would have her best racing season as a juvenile. Popinjay joined the Astor stud paddocks in 1909, where she became the dam of eight winners. While her immediate offspring were quite good at the races, it was through her daughters and sons breeding careers that carried the name of Popinjay to exalted heights. The list is impressive.

The first daughter of note from Popinjay was Good and Gay. Sired by Bayardo, Good and Gay produced Tea Tray by The Tetrarch who became a very notable sire in Australia. Swift and Sure (by Swynford) won the Chester Vase and was also a good sire. However, that one’s full sister Saucy Sue became one of Lord Astor’s best Thoroughbreds that raced under his colours. Saucy Sue was the top juvenile filly in 1924 and continued her racing successes the following year winning both the 1000 Guineas and the Epsom Oaks, as well as the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. Pompadour was a full sister to Good and Gay. Her value was not as immediate but down the generations her name appears prominently in the tail-female line of Canadian champions Victorian Prince, Victorian Queen and L’Alezane.

Popingaol, sired by Dark Ronald, became a highly acclaimed producer in her own right. This branch of the Chelandry line became very powerful with the likes of her second foal Pogrom, winner of the Epsom Oaks and the Coronation Stakes, Miss Gadabout (Cheveley Park Stakes), and a pair of full sisters sired by Buchan named Book Law and Book Debt.

Book Law was a versatile miss winning the Queen Mary Stakes as a two-year-old, the classic St. Leger Stakes, the Jockey Club Cup and the one-mile Coronation Cup at three, and then ran second to the great Fairway three times. Among Book Law’s offspring are; Rhodes Scholar (Eclipse Stakes); Archive, sire of the immortal steeplechaser Arkle and champion sprinter Arcandy (rated at 131 lbs by Timeform); and Highway Code, who was purchased by A. B. “Bull” Hancock, and later became the dam of Courtesy, thus becoming the matriarch to the family of Knightly Manner, Continue, File (dam of Forty Niner), Chain, Shadeed, and Tuerta (dam of Swale).

Full sister Book Debt was also successful in producing a top-class runner for Lord Astor’s stable. Her son Pay Up, sired by Fairway, won the 2000 Guineas Stakes in 1936, thus defeating his cousin Rhodes Scholar in the process. However, Book Debt’s influence over the course of time has not been as prominent as her sister. This branch does pop up in high caliber stakes from time to time with the likes of Queen Alexandra (Matron Handicap), and Action This Day (Breeder’s Cup Juvenile) in more recent times.

Lord Astor had hit the motherlode with this family because Popingaol was not done there. Further descendants include her son Field Trial (3rd to Bois Roussel in The Derby), daughter Toolbooth (dam of classic winners Traghetto and Trabant), and her daughter by Fairway named Fair Cop. The latter is matriarch to some fine steeds such as Tudor Melody, Gay Matelda, and Shady Heights.

Returning to Chelandry, we now come to her most accomplish direct offspring. Bred in 1907 by Lord Roseberry, Neil Gow was a big flashy chestnut sired by Marco, and he had spirit. Oodles of spirit. So much spirit in fact that his boisterous personality cost him a couple of races in which he was clearly the best in as a two-year-old. The Woodcote Stakes and the Coventry Stakes were early season first class races in which his over exuberance clearly diminished his chances to win. Later in the year though, Neil Gow began to understand what was expected of him and he reeled of the National Breeders’ Produce Stakes, Prince of Wales Stakes, Champagne Stakes and the Imperial Produce Stakes in convincing fashion to be acclaimed as the best juvenile of the year.

The next year Neil Gow showed the racing world that his feisty spirit would serve him well. He needed his talent and courage in order to face the emerging colt Lemberg, a half brother to the exceptional Bayardo. Neil Gow and Lemberg first hooked up in the 2000 Guineas. This race has been listed as one of the all-time great races in English turf history. In the final run from the bushes along the Rowley Mile Course, Neil Gow and Lemberg engaged in an all-out battle for the win, leaving the rest of the field far behind. Running as a tandem the two colts never gave in nor expected the other to wilt, but at the finish post it was Neil Gow who prevailed by a short head to claim the classic win. The stirring duel exhausted everyone in attendance, as well as the two combatants that staged the great spectacle.

These two continued their war against each other in The Derby Stakes at Epsom, but Neil Gow had sustained a minor injury to his right hock and missed some valuable training in the lead up to the race. Lemberg got the better of Chelandry’s son who faded to fourth. Back for another round and in better condition, Neil Gow and Lemberg again squared off in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and repeated their 2000 Guineas masterpiece. They where so close at the finish post that a dead heat was declared. This race was before the advent of high-speed cameras to determine the winner. A planned renewal of this riveting rivalry was to take place in the St. Leger Stakes, but Neil Gow unfortunately sustained a career ending injury in training and was retired. Also, unfortunately Neil Gow could not pass on his class and speed to his children, but future generations through his daughters did make some noise. He is the broodmare sire of notables such as Rose of England (Epsom Oaks), Rodosto (2000 Guineas, Prix d’Essai des Poulains), Chatelaine (Epsom Oaks), Bubbles (Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud), Chateau Bouscaut (Prix du Jockey Club, Prix du Cadran), and Cadum (Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Prix du Cadran). One more unfortunate aspect of Neil Gow was that he died at the young age of twelve in 1919.

Chelandry continued her consecutive year pace in production and gave birth to a bay filly sired by the great Australian champion Carbine. Given the name Martial Note, this filly with regal bloodlines never won a race. She did however add to the illustrious family when she went to the breeding paddocks, by producing one filly that played a significant part in the Chelandry legacy. Martial Note was bred to St. Amant, winner of the 1904 Epsom Derby and 2000 Guineas, and produced a small bay filly in 1918. Unraced at two and unable to make an impact as a three-year-old, the filly now named Chacolet was sold by Lord Roseberry to Hal Price Headley who in turn want to breed her for the next breeding season. She did not become pregnant. But! Many a best laid idea does not always come out as planned.

Chacolet was sent to the US and put back into training. She took time to get the hang of racing and did win two of ten races in her new country. Headley decided to see if see could improve her race record and did not attempt to breed Chacolet for the next season. Good decision on his part. Chacolet became not only a stakes winner but was also the champion female handicap horse in 1923 and again the following year. The little mare won such (then) prestigious races as the Latonia Cup, Kentucky Special, and Dixie Stakes during her two championship seasons. She was retired after this and did become a mother with her son Dynastic (Champagne Stakes) being the most notable. Hal Price Headley absolutely loved Chacolet, so he went back to England and purchased her half sister Aroma from Lord Roseberry. Although Aroma never broke her maiden, she did produce more stakes winners for the stable when she went into the broodmare band.

Chelandry produced seven more foals after Martial Note. In succession where; Yippingale, a bay filly by William The Third; Chastelard, a chestnut colt by Bachelor’s Button; Soulouque, a black colt by Marco and thus a full brother to Neil Gow; Dark Flight, a brown filly by Dark Ronald; Bobolink, a bay filly by Willonyx; Pennula, a bay filly by Sunstar; and Chersonese, a bay filly by Cyglad. Of these last group of Chelandry foals, Bobolink, Dark Flight and Chersonese have made the biggest contributions to future generations.

Bobolink was sold to A. B. Hancock and went to Claiborne and roamed paddocks near her half brother Wrack. Four sons of Bobolink became stakes winners, with the most influential of these being her son by Ambassador IV, St. James. Hancock sold St. James to George Widener when a yearling for $9,000. Coming out like a tiger as a two-tear-old, St. James won multiple stakes races including the United States Hotel Stakes, Saratoga Special, and the Futurity Stakes. The latter race he carried 130 lbs. After winning his first three-year-old race, St. James was injured in training and never raced again.

Sent to stud for the following year, St. James sired Evening, a brilliant filly who beat the boys in the Florida Derby, as well as multiple stakes winner Jamestown. The latter sired Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Johnstown. That one is better known to modern racing fans as the broodmare sire of the great Nashua.

Dark Flight’s influence stems through her son The Night Patrol. Sold to George Rous, the 3rd Earl of Stradbroke in Australia, The Night Patrol captured the Cox Plate and twelve other takes races. He had a successful, but not spectacular stud career, with double St. Leger (AJC and VRC) winner Middle Watch being his best runner.

Chersonese also had major influence in Australia. Moving to the land down under gave her the chance to meet the stallion Valais. The result of this mating produced one of Australia’s greatest turf legends, Heroic. Winner of 19 stakes races, and 21 races overall, Heroic became a superstar to Aussie racing fans with his courageous come from the back runs and of course that catchy name. Wins in the AJC Derby, Cox Plate, King’s Plate, Caufield Guineas and Autumn Stakes are just some of the highlights this legend claimed. His stud career was no less impressive as he led the Australian sire list for seven consecutive seasons thus cementing his rightful place in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

After never missing a year in which she came into foal and producing a healthy live foal for sixteen straight seasons, Chelandry came up barren for the first time after she had Chersonese. Despite her advancing age she was bred again for the following season and came in foal to a young stallion named Junior. Chelandry carried the foal through to term, but when it was time for her son to come into the world, complications arose. The foal was a big one, much bigger than her usual foals she had, and this complicated matters to extreme. The colt died during the birth. The entire ordeal also took to much out of Chelandry as well. The great mare died from total exhaustion later that day.

Such a tragic end to such a wonderful mare does not diminish her great legacy. For when Chelandry died she was already considered as a great mare. The brilliance of Neil Gow and the many high-class stakes winners she produced gave her a high standing in the Thoroughbred world. The production of her daughters in breeding and the continuation of the excellence she begat enhanced her reputation. Her legend grew year upon year after her passing to the point where she is rightfully considered as one of the all-time greatest mares in Thoroughbred history. An immortal in some opinions, and the founding mare of a family that has given the turf world some memorable champions in every jurisdiction.

This article is only a highlight of the immense influence Chelandry has on breeding. To do complete justice to her, one would need to write an entire book to include all the greats she has influence to. Be that as it may, I think you will agree here that Chelandry was indeed a legend. And that may be an understatement in itself.

Chelandry was a true gift from the racing gods. A gift that just keeps on giving.

(Photo of Chelandry source unknown) 

One comment

  • Chelandry was well represented in Puerto Rico by the native bred mare, Ufemia. She was sired by Sea Base ( full brother to Seabiscuit) out of Pennine, by Supremus. Ufemia was a multiple stakes winner with a knack for sprinting distances. In 1957 she defeated the “crack” colt, The Kid (Solid Kid in the US), this later one was a son of Solid Gain out of Lady Colorado. Unfortunatelly, she was not given an opportunity as a broodmare.

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